The following relates to my time as a hospital chaplain this past summer in New York.
You never know what is going to be on the other side of that door. As a chaplain walking into the hospital room of a patient, there may be people who are anxiously awaiting surgery. There may be people who are packing up after an overnight stay and are delighted to be heading home. There may be people who were just told a few hours before that they only have weeks left to live.
One of the bigger jobs of the chaplain is to be empathetic with everyone on the other side of that door, to meet and encounter the feelings of the patients no matter where on the happy-or-sad scale, on the great-or-lousy continuum, on the joyous-or-defeated measuring stick they may land. And it’s not as if you have a lot of time to prepare for this diversity when you walk in the door… the patient’s physical illness is immediately available to you on the chart you walk in with; the patient’s emotional state is most decidedly not.
So a tool we as chaplains-in-training were quickly introduced to as a means of establishing …
The night before I left for seminary—my “last night” if you will—some friends were sitting on my front porch having some beers. We were joking around and doing what we all do best: busting on one another. While everyone in the group was taking their fair share of sarcastic shrapnel, eventually the barrels were turned onto the topic of my impending celibacy with the comment; “Enjoy your last night… you have to turn in your ‘Man Card’ tomorrow.” Zing!
I was reflecting on that moment while flipping the channels the other night. The old television standby of a James Bond movie appeared on the television menu, one that happened to be one of my favorites: Casino Royale. This film by far had the best acting and the best plot development of the Bond films; it also had one of the better 007s: Daniel Craig.
Daniel Craig’s Bond personified a more modern male ideal… an ideal regularly championed by any Maxim or FHM magazine. But watching this film also got me thinking how much this character—played by any actor—had been one of the major definitions of manhood I had growing up. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I …